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May 06, 2014

Vast Advancements in the Treatment of Fetal Heart Disease

We’ve come a long way with the diagnosis and treatment of fetal heart disease, according to a scientific statement released by the American Heart Association.

According to a scientific statement recently released by the American Heart Association, we've made significant progress in the diagnosis and treatment of fetal heart disease.

Written by experts in the field, this statement summarized our current understanding of fetal heart disease and outlined best practices for the diagnosis and management of this condition. Authors reviewed the latest tests used to diagnose fetal heart disease, such as 3- and 4-dimensional imaging tests that help provide detailed information about the fetus’s heart. They also reviewed the latest treatments that have helped improve outcomes for babies born with heart defects and highlighted the need for additional research in the field of fetal cardiac care.

Throughout this statement, it’s clear how much fetal heart care has evolved throughout the years. Not long ago, there was little that could be done following the diagnosis of a fetal heart problem. Doctors’ primary goal was to counsel families on what to expect once the baby was born, since there was nothing that could be done in utero to treat the fetus. Now, experts are able to work together to pinpoint a fetal heart problem and possibly intervene before delivery to improve outcomes.

Of course, there’s still plenty of room for advancement. With further research, experts hope to continue improving outcomes for fetuses diagnosed with heart disease. And despite advancements in care, authors highlight the continued importance of prenatal counseling following diagnosis. Doctors should work closely with parents to provide an accurate diagnosis, provide a clear and truthful prognosis, outline treatment options and help parents reach medical decisions that are best for them.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is fetal heart disease?
  • Using advanced imaging, doctors are often able to detect heart defects in fetuses before birth, referred to as fetal heart disease. Following diagnosis of fetal heart disease, doctors work with parents to make the best possible medical decisions for the fetus.
  • What is the prognosis for fetal heart disease?
  • Once a fetus is diagnosed with a heart condition, the prognosis depends on a number of factors. Based on imaging tests and treatment options, parents should work closely with their health care team to reach decisions about treatment options that are best for them.

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